Waterfowl Festival & Visiting Pickering Creek Audubon Center!
By Rachelle Siegrist
We were greeted by a stunning sunrise as we left our home in the Smokies early last Wednesday morning, heading to Easton, MD for the Waterfowl Festival. It was a beautiful day with gold and orange leaves still clinging to the trees as we drove north. Thursday morning we hung and arranged our miniature paintings in the Armory in downtown Easton, before grabbing a quick lunch and heading for a new adventure. Somehow we have missed this wonderful gem, while visiting Easton all of these years! I managed to find Pickering Creek Audubon Center online, and with directions, we were off.
What was once Heigh Ho Farm, was donated to the Chesapeake Audubon Society in 1981 by brother and sister George Olds and Margret Strahl. They wanted a place where the young and old from all walks of life could come and enjoy the natural beauty of the Eastern Shore. And thank goodness for generous people like these two, who afford nature lovers such as ourselves a delightful place to spend a day, and free of charge at that!
Driving up a long narrow gravel road, we were greeted by a small quaint building which serves as the welcome center. To the left lay a vast open field, one of many in which they still practice sustainable farming. Wes and I chose to walk rather than drive down a long gravel road separating the open fields from the woods, and delighted in watching numerous birds where the two meet!
We watched and listened to vast flocks of blackbirds that flew overhead, landing in the outstretched arms of several tall trees nearby. It was absolutely amazing and unlike anything I had seen or heard before! Each time hundreds of birds would lift off and fly directly above, filling the air with a sound, much like a helicopter taking off! I couldn’t get enough of it and was thrilled each time it happened!
We saw numerous sparrows, warblers, robins, blue jays and many other songbirds as we relaxingly walked along the road leading to a small parking area near at the end.
We started walking along the dirt path leading through the woodland, and soon came upon a stately old home, where it sat overlooking the picturesque creek. “Wow…I could so live here!” I said to Wes, as the setting was simply stunning!
Leaving the home I walked down a short path leading out to a pier where the waterman’s shanty stood alongside. While standing at the end of the pier and soaking in the gorgeous landscape, a Bald Eagle gracefully circled above!
I watched as the eagle slowly circled above, silhouetted against brilliant blue skies! I walked back up the pier aways and into the old shanty where I found what appeared to be holding tanks for crabs and such, with old nets and traps tucked into the rafters above.
Leaving the old shanty I walked over to the canoe and kayak launching site, envisioning how delightful it would be to have had my pink kayak along on such a splendid day!
I slowly meandered along the path leading through the woods, making sure to take advantage of each and every short path going over to the water’s edge. I walked some distance before coming upon a small cabin which belonged to the late author Gilbert Bryon.
Because he shared the same birth date with Walden Pond’s Henry David Thoreau, he is also called “Chesapeake’s Thoreau“. Byron published 14 books, over 70 short stories, poems, and articles during his lifetime, while living on the Eastern Shore of the Bay much of his life. The quaint log cabin where he resided for 45 years, was saved from destruction and ultimately preserved at Pickering Creek.
It was like stepping back in time, to a much simpler way of life, while walking through the cabin. Leaving there I continued along the path winding through woodlands and occasionally crossing boardwalks over little streams. It led me to a small pond surrounded by trees dressed in stunning fall color, mirrored on the glass-like surface of the water below. Numerous birds flitted all around and minnows darted in the shallow pools near the edge, as I stood there enjoying the peaceful setting.
All too soon it was time to leave, and head back to the hotel to get ready for the opening of the show that evening situated in historical downtown Easton. We enjoyed seeing collector and artist friends throughout the weekend, and we were delighted to have miniatures find new homes! The artist dinner party Saturday evening treated our taste buds to delicious food, while conversation and laughter filled the air.
Before we knew it the weekend festival had come to an end, and it was time to start the journey back home. I was delighted to make it to the Bay Bridge in time to watch the sun set behind it.
~ Currently on the Easels ~
It’s been quite busy again here in the Siegrist studio, with us just returning from the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, MD, and getting ready for the upcoming Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in picturesque Thomasville, GA. Here’s my latest painting featuring a Red Fox which we enjoyed watching in Homosassa Springs last month. This will be one of many exquisite miniatures that will be available for purchase at the Plantation show.
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Until next time . . .